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Mariners lose a legend: Broadcaster Dave Niehaus dies at 75

David Brown
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The Seattle Mariners lost their voice on Wednesday.

Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Niehaus, who called the first pitch in Mariners history and introduced fans to Ken Griffey Jr.(notes), died of a heart attack at his home in suburban Seattle. He was 75.

It's been a rough year for the Mariners, but all of their nonsense seems like a pittance when compared to Niehaus' death.

For Seattle, losing Niehaus is like the St. Louis Cardinals losing Jack Buck, the Toronto Blue Jays losing Tom Cheek, the Detroit Tigers losing Ernie Harwell or the Philadelphia Phillies losing Harry Kalas.

More than any of the team's players — more than Griffey, Ichiro Suzuki(notes), Randy Johnson(notes), Jay Buhner or Edgar Martinez — Niehaus was the Mariners. Niehaus (pictured above on the left with partner Rick Rizzs in 2008) was so beloved by the fans, they chose him to throw out the first pitch at Safeco Field's first game in 1999.

Condolences have been pouring in — from the governor of Washington and the mayor of Seattle, to the commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Griffey was quite touching in remembering Niehaus, comparing him to a grandfather.

Buhner, in a statement via the Seattle Times, was devastated by the news:

"Words can't describe what I am feeling right now," Buhner said. "This is the saddest day of my life. It is like I am losing a Dad, someone that was a father figure to me. ... He described everything with an art and painted a picture you could see in your mind."

If the Mariners did it, Niehaus called it. From the early days of the franchise in the dark Kingdome, to rousing playoff success against the New York Yankees, to the big move to palatial Safeco, he talked M's fans through all of it.

Sometimes, he shouted. No broadcaster in history, probably, expressed his excitement to be at a baseball game like Niehaus.

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The Seattle Times has collected some of Niehaus' most memorable calls. All of them feature his trademark voice-raising and include Griffey's first career homer at age 19, Gaylord Perry's 300th career victory, no-hitters by Chris Bosio and Randy Johnson, along with the unforgettable series-winning hit by Martinez against the Yankees in the 1995 playoffs:



Niehaus, though, probably never got as excited as he did in September 2009 after colleague Mike Blowers' pregame prediction about Matt Tuiasosopo hitting a home run came true. This is my favorite Niehaus moment:

My, oh, my — as Niehaus would say — what a career he had. A Hall of Fame career. It was just too short.

UPDATE: Larry Granillo of Wezen-Ball digs to find the origins of Niehaus and the M's.

To pay your respect, check out this Facebook page dedicated to Niehaus.

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave

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